WHO IS EDUARDO BOURS?
In April of 1920, a group of Generals from our State of Sonora, lead by Alvaro Obregon, proclaimed the Agua Prieta Plan and marched against the federal government to defend two of the most important principles of the original Mexican Revolution, liberal democracy and federalism. They had formed the Constitutional Liberal Army, to fight the regular forces of the federal government headed by Venustiano Carranza, who wanted to block the candidacy of Obregon to the presidency, already marching back by the group of Liberal Clubs from Sonora.
The Agua Prieta Plan immediately was accepted by the majority of the people and big part of the federal army, which provoked the fall of Carranza and the victory of Obregon in an historic event that started what is now known as the Sonorans hegemony. For the next more than ten years, the leaders from Sonora were in charge and building the modern Mexico until the assassination of Gral. Obregon, which marked the turn of the country to the kind of economic and political system that we had for the last more than 70 years.
The rumor in the corridors of power was that, sonorans should be kept out of Mexico City because they did not represent the principles of the second wave of the Mexican Revolution, which started as a movement for liberal democracy, but ended up as an autocratic concentration of power through, what Vargas Llosa called the perfect dictatorship, insulated by mercantilism and rampant corruption. Sonorans were too autonomous, wild, independent and difficult to control. And even when one of them, Elias Calles, started to accumulate all the power of the nation, another group of sonorans rebelled when they proclaimed the Hermosillo Plan, but they were crushed to end the dream of a free Mexico.
But, is that rumor truth? Nobody can tell but, nor they can explain the assassination of Luis Donaldo Colosio in 1994, a sonoran candidate to be president who, many people say, because he stared to show that character and moral fiber which made Sonora so famous that, the people from Mexico City stared calling us; the barbarians from the north, stop being attractive for the Perfect dictatorship. Can the sonoran hegemony be revive and back to the leadership of the country?. I think so, and I will tell you why.
The last almost 3 years, in my home State of Sonora in Mexico; we have lived a very intense and interesting experience. For the first time in our history, we had the chance to test that sweet delicatessen just a few years ago, so far away of our reach; liberal democracy. But this political process has been not only our first meeting with this powerful tool sleeping in the minds of our people. It also has been the blossom of a new political figure which a lot of Mexicans are now looking in awe: Eduardo Bours.
In the elections of the summer of 2003, after months of legal legal maneuvering promoted by the party he defeated; PAN, the day before his inauguration the federal courts declared Eduardo Bours the legitimate governor elect, and rejected the sallow arguments of his opposition to declare the election null. But the story is much more interesting than that.
Eduardo Bours is not the classic politician out of the ranges of the party which dominated the political arena in Mexico for more than 70 years; PRI. Bours is a young man educated in the prestige Monterrey Institute of Technology in Monterrey, Mexico, where he got a degree in industrial engineering. He is also member of one of the most prestige, respected, philanthropic and wealthy families of Mexico with business interest in almost every productive activity all over the country.
The Bours family, among many things, controls the equivalent of the Tyson group in Mexico. But the amazing side of this story is that they made the fortune, not the classic Mexican way; playing the crony capitalism with the government and promoting mercantilism and protectionism. They made it the old fashion way; investing, risking and working very hard while suffering the aggression of the old system. In 1976, the family suffered the expropriation of many thousands acres of the best agriculture land in the Yaqui Valley, where they had built a real example of modern and farming in a country where agriculture still was in the Stone Age. Then, when Lopez Portillo, out of desperation and craziness, illegally expropriated the banks in 1982, the family lost important investments as shareholders of several banks where some members of the family were directors of the Board.
When Carlos Salinas de Gortari started the aggressive reforms which took the country, among many things, to be part of NAFTA, Eduardo Bours was fresh out of college working in the family’s group. After a few years, he started to show his capabilities as a leader and in 1996, he was elected President of the National Board of Agribusiness and the next year, President of the most important business organization of Mexico; the National Coordination of Business which is the sum of all the business organization of our country. A lot of people started to pay attention to this young guy making so many waves.
After the hardliners master minded the devaluation of December 1994 which took the country almost to the abyss, President Zedillo, along with his pro free markets Secretary of the Treasury, Guillermo Ortiz, started an emergency plan to rescue the whole banking system about to collapse. The plan also would be a way to help business that as a consequence of the big economic crises that devaluation served to the country, were ready to go belly up losing millions of jobs and destroying the already crippling economy.
President Zedillo decided that the best way to handle this delicate situation was to put in charge of the operation a very special man. A man carrying the right reputation, the vision, the experience, and the tools to face that serious problem and most importantly, someone from the business sector. After considering many business leaders of the country, the President decided to ask Eduardo Bours to be in charge of that mini Marshal Plan for the business sector, working from the Treasury Ministry and teeming up with that group of young libertarian politicians headed by the former Secretary Pedro Aspe.
This gave Eduardo the opportunity first, to be in touch with the ideas of free markets which President Zedillo holds and kept trying to install in the old mercantilist Mexican system, and as Bours affirms, immediately fall in love with. But most importantly, it gave him a taste of politics and he also fell in love with it when he realized that Mexico needed a different kind of political leaders in order to dismantle the old edifice ready to fall, and build a new one out of liberty. The new edifice for a country that had been struggling since its independence almost 200 years ago and still was a poor and underdeveloped nation.
After successfully working in that plan for President Zedillo, Eduardo thinking that the original group of libertarians who started as members of PRI and then were outcast by the hardliners, had still the chance to be back in charge, he decided to become part of that group and to get involve in politics. He became member of PRI and then Senator for our State. Sonora, for the last 12 years, had been control by a group of what we call baby dinosaurs; young politicians but trained by the old hardliners who controlled the country for so many years. They were not ready to give up control of this important border State and, old system style; they selected their own candidate to participate in the first democratic primary in the history of the State and run against a couple of decoys, to choose the PRI candidate to be the new governor.
And here is where the story gets real interesting. Eduardo going against all ads and against the powerful system, decided to challenge them and to participate, very unwelcome, in the masquerade they had prepared to crown their man. They never imagined that first of all; Eduardo could have the character and the audacity to challenge them. Second of all; when they realized he would, they never thought he could have any chance against the power of the system, and pointed all their weapons to eliminate him. But after a bloody campaign where the experts estimate the baby dinosaurs spent over $10,000,000 dollars to win the primary; they could not believe the numbers after the election: Eduardo Bours had won in a land slide and was PRI candidate to be governor.
But the story gets better. The new generation of hardliners, now again in control of the party, when they lost the primary and were unable to negotiate anything with Bours to cover their tracks, they went to the second alternative: To sabotage Bours, supporting under the table the candidate of the opposition party PAN, the party of President Fox, and to cut off any kind of government financial support for Bours’ campaign—money already in their coffers.
So, now Bours had to go against both parties; PRI and PAN, but not only that. He had to go against the power of the State government and his governor who had the task of derail him as a field marshal for the PRI national headquarters; the powerful Catholic Church which had had a long and old partnership with PAN, and hundred of priests all over the State became political activist asking the people to vote for the candidate of PAN. Not enough? Well, then he also had to fight the only newspaper with regional coverage of the whole State; El Imparcial, and its Editorial Board all members of the elite catholic organization Opus Dei.
But Bours fought with great determination and valor and went out to encounter all his powerful enemies at any corner of the battle field. The Election Day when all the polls were already closed, the powerful network Televisa, based on the trends and exit pools, declared Bours the victor. Then, immediately, the other network TV Azteca, also declared him the winner. The new computarizated government system (PREP) by midnight showed a difference of 13 point for Bours, but mysteriously the system broke down and when everybody woke up the morning to celebrate, the new government’s data showed a draw.
This started the long battle that looked much alike the last Presidential election in the USA. After several recounts, Bours was still the winner for about 20,000 votes, but his opponent from PAN, Ramon Corral, decided to go to court and challenge the results. After months of legal maneuvering, first the State courts and then the State congress, declared Bours the winner. But then Corral decided to go to the Federal Courts which the day before the inauguration decided also that Bours was the legitimate governor elect, and should took office the next day.
Eduardo Bours was inaugurated as the new governor midnight September 12, 2003 and the next day in a very dramatic and emotional message to the people, he unveiled his philosophy and shocked the big bosses of the party who had came to our State for this special occasion. He defined very clearly the real roll of a good government which should be to protect life, liberty, property and the enforcement of contracts. He called for the role of law in a State where, as Bastiat wrote 200 years ago; the law has acted in direct opposition of its own purpose; the law has been applied to annihilating the justice that it was suppose to maintain; to limit and destroy the rights which its real purpose was to respect.
Then he shocked all the people when he declared; government is not a jobs provided, nor the solution to all their problems. He then called for the respect of property rights, national or foreign, as a way to promote economic development and get a piece of the global pie in the international capital markets. He asked the people from Sonora to realize and understand that the era of the revolutionary Mexico was over and now it walks a new path. But maybe what caused the most nerviness among the politicians in that place was when he made a commitment to the people to fight the rampant corruption which has been the common denominator in Sonora for the last 12 years.
Bours has been governor for a little more than 2 years, and has been making much more waves not only over the state, but all over Mexico and the future of Sonora, for the first time in many years, looks real bright and sunny. But more importantly, I see governor Eduardo Bours as prospect better looking than Mickey Mantle when he arrived to the big leagues to become a legend, and even better than that young Cassius Clay wining the Olympic medal in Rome.
As everybody already knows, the wing representing the old hardliners who control the country for the last 70 years, again took over the party and their candidate for this coming election, is one of the baby dinosaur who carries a real scary reputation, Roberto Madrazo. Well, Bours rebelled and in a blunt statement declared his opposition to Madrazo, setting up the field for an interesting political battle in which I assure you, Bours is not to retreat because this man, as Teddy Roosevelt affirmed, has never been in the rank of those poor spirits who neither enjoy much no suffer much, because they live in the gray twilight that know not victory or defeat. We should expect big news about him in the future.